President of Monte Carlo Yachts, Board member of Italian Yachting Federation (UCINA) and the Board of Bénéteau Group and General Manager of Bénéteau Brand, Carla Demaria, delivered a compelling keynote speech at the opening ceremony of METS 2014 yesterday morning. Her speech focused on how the philosophy of adaptive evolution has paid dividends for her company.
Her presentation began with a reminder to her audience of the importance of innovation and creativity, with direct examples of how these two factors had contributed to the success of the Bénéteau Group. Demaria also reflected on how the third generation of people at the helm of the company had maintained a clear vision, but that vision alone is insufficient. She stated, “You also have to convert that vision into a coordinated strategy and a structured plan on how to reach your goals. In a rapidly changing world such as ours, these strategies then have to be adjusted accordingly.”
Pointing out the near impossibility of making specific predictions for the future of the yachting sector, Demaria stressed that adaptation was the only strategy that could be sustained in the long term. “In the Bénéteau Group… we have devised the capability to anticipate the meaning of changes and to continue to deliver the adaptive response required.” This point was illustrated by looking back over the past six years. Just before the recession hit in 2008, the Bénéteau Group’s turnover was € 1.015 billion, but this fell to € 659 million in 2009. By taking rapid decisions that faced the reality of the new market, the company was able to return its turnover to € 921 million by 2011.
According to Demaria, a philosophy of adaptive evolution must impact all parts of a company, and the establishment of Monte Carlo Yachts gave the Bénéteau Group the chance to maximise its potential. “We have left behind the philosophy of ‘make and sell’ (which is fine when there are more customers than boats) to one of ‘sense and respond,” she says. Demaria is convinced that the old adage that the best product requires the best process is truer than ever, and explained how her team had dedicated time to the study of manufacturing at Porsche, commenting they have set an ‘inspirational benchmark.’
Of particular interest to Demaria and Monte Carlo Yachts was the requirement for well-functioning partnerships, robust company processes, professional network management and integration of suppliers. “We have learned how to share know-how with suppliers and integrate them into production development at an early stage. This in turn enables suppliers to control costs so that builders are not required to constantly seek lower costs.
“At Monte Carlo Yachts we have experienced a similar process breakthrough, practicing innovation via lean transformation and taking a fresh approach to the supply chain. This enabled us to create the MCY 76 which, despite being our very first motorboat, built from scratch, has become the most awarded boat ever. This did not happen by chance: it is the result of the best product being made by the best process. Construction is carried out in different phases, saving us almost 50% on production time, and we have a deep integration with the designers who know our process inside out and maximise the design proposals they make accordingly.”
Demaria ended her speech by urging the marine industry to see the crisis as an opportunity for progress. “Be open-minded, flexible and always ready to act to changes,” she concluded.